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Portal hypertension is a condition characterized by high blood pressure within the portal vein and its tributaries. The portal vein is a major blood vessel that carries blood from the digestive organs, spleen, and pancreas to the liver. The increase in pressure in this system can lead to various complications, especially in the liver.
The most common cause of portal hypertension is liver cirrhosis, a condition where healthy liver tissue is progressively replaced by scar tissue due to chronic liver disease. However, other conditions can also cause portal hypertension, such as:
The increased pressure in the portal vein can lead to the development of portosystemic collaterals—alternative blood vessels that form to bypass the obstructed liver circulation. These collaterals may include varices, which are dilated and fragile blood vessels in the esophagus, stomach, and rectum. If these varices rupture, it can lead to severe and potentially life-threatening bleeding.
Other complications of portal hypertension include:
Management of portal hypertension aims to prevent complications and improve quality of life. Treatment may involve:
Portal hypertension is a serious medical condition, and early diagnosis and appropriate management are crucial to prevent complications and improve patient outcomes. Patients with known liver disease or risk factors for portal hypertension should have regular medical check-ups and follow their healthcare provider’s recommendations.